Marketing Digital Content in a Creative Industry

This guest post was written by Elizabeth Barker, Marketing & Communications Coordinator at eBOUND Canada.

eBOUND Canada recently released a report that examines how digital content is marketed across the creative industries. You can find the entire report here [PDF], but in this post, we’ll just answer the question on everyone’s mind.

Q: So, what is the best digital marketing practice for Canadian publishers?

A: Ongoing experimentation.

For anyone who just felt their heart hit their stomach: don’t worry! “Experimentation” is no longer synonymous with “shot in the dark.” The integration of social and multimedia into traditional marketing tactics has created new opportunities for publishers to reach their targeted readerships. Thus, publishers now have more avenues to explore—avenues that can lead directly to the consumer and to timely feedback.


Of the forty-two publishers surveyed, 50% have integrated multimedia into their marketing strategies, and they found visual approaches to be the most effective.

Pricing and Bundling

Publishers are also experimenting with e-pricing and bundling services. 75% of publishers who have tried bundling report a positive experience. It seems likely that interest in bundling among publishers will increase now that some of the larger publishers are going this route.

Publishers have been more ambitious with their e-pricing trials and e-content promotions. 40% of publishers have at least experimented with promotional prices for their ebooks. On average, publishers are trying the widest range of pricing with trade books, as seen below:

Promotions offering e-content as a bonus—excerpts, exclusive e-content, or bundling—have been used to entice readers, but with mixed success. The constant experimentation with pricing structures may be why publishers listed their relationships with e-vendors as a vital priority.

Subscription Services

Subscription services are a growing interest, but with the leading providers (Scribd, Oyster, and the recently announced Kindle Unlimited) unavailable in Canada, options have been limited for publishers with their eyes primarily on the Canadian market. 30% of respondents have tried one or more of these services already, while 50% have not, but are interested.

Challenges of Marketing Digital Content

Digital marketing is by no means a walk in the park. Publishers must compete for readers’ attention against peer industries, a growing self-publishing movement, and a persistant cultural belief that online content should be free and readily accessible.

Limited time, staff, and resources may have slowed publishers down a bit as they try to settle on the digital marketing methods that work best for them, but it hasn’t stopped them from trying. The Current & Emerging Best Practices in Promoting & Marketing Digital Content report shows that not all publishers are taking the same route, and what doesn’t work for one publisher could be the right course for another. So, good news, everyone! There are effective marketing trends emerging that can help publishers along their way. Meaningful analysis, strong relationships, the accumulation of constructive data, and above all, creativity are (for now) the best marketing practices.

This study was conducted by Castledale Inc., with the financial support of the OMDC.